Dan Szymborski released some far-too-early ZiPS standings projections for 2018 at ESPN.com, and it has the Jays (and the Orioles) a game behind the Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot with a record of 83-79. That’s a pretty good start! Granted, Dan calls this a “dead cat bounce,” and basically a certainty that the Red Sox and Yankees both go out and add better players than the Jays do before all is said and done, so we probably shouldn’t start jumping up and down over this. But it does at least illustrate that there really is a pretty good core here. The Jays just have to do a better job of complementing it this winter than they did last time around.
Speaking of dead cat bounces and mistakes made by the Jays last winter, the club and José Bautista officially parted ways over the weekend, as the Jays formally declined their end of the mutual option on his contract. It was a hell of a run. Now, a quick reminder to that strange group of fans who for some reason think that finding a way to bring him back is a good idea: over the last three seasons Bautista has seen his ISO go from .285 to .217 to .164. Slugging percentage from .536 to .452 to .366. On-base from .377 to .366 to .308. wRC+ from 148 to 122 to 80. Contact rate from 80.9% to 80.2% to 73.3%. Swinging strike rate from 7.5% to 7.2% to 10.9%. Average exit velocity from 92.0 to 91.6 to 88.3. Percentage of balls with an exit velocity above 95 from 46.1% to 46.3% to 35.6%. Percentage of “barrels” per ball in play from 14.3% to 9.0% to 6.6%. Someone might get a bargain here, but the team that has the roster spot to give him a chance isn’t going to be one that actually expects to be good.
Speaking of the Blue Jays and Bautista and free agents, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post gives his list of the top 30 free agents available this winter, including predictions on where they’ll land, and not single one on his list ends up with the Blue Jays — and Bautista? He’s nowhere to be found. Sadly… uh… yeah. Wouldn’t shock me.
Great stuff, as always, from Tammy Rainey of BP Toronto, who brings us an optimist’s guide to the 2018 Blue Jays. Things could go right! No, really!
Related to my earlier post, Future Blue Jays looks at the decisions on prospects that the Blue Jays will be making in the weeks ahead when it comes to protecting players from selection in the Rule 5 draft.
A really interesting one from Matt W. of Bluebird Banter, as he considers the seven days that changed Blue Jays franchise history — the seven days of service time the José Bautista missed becoming a free agent after 2010 by. The club, of course, signed him following his 2010 breakout to a big extension, rather than letting him reach free agency the following winter. If not for those seven days, maybe they’d never have kept him.
Elsewhere at Bluebird Banter, Minor League looks at some doubleheader possibilities for next season — that is, doubleheaders featuring the Jays and one of their minor league affiliates playing at different times on the same day.
Former Blue Jays Jack Morris and Dave Parker are among the ten names that are up for consideration for election to the Hall of Fame this year by the Veterans Committee. Yahoo has the full list, which also includes Alan Trammell, but not Lou Whitaker or Dave Stieb — complete bullshit omissions! Or so they would be if the Hall of Fame hadn’t years ago abdicated any pretense of relevance through its treatment of “steroid era” candidates. To the bottom of the sea with it!
Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs takes a look at the Royals and their terrible, terrible roster — which got worse this week as top players Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain filed for free agency. Uh… fingers crossed that the Jays don’t get this treatment in a year’s time, when Donaldson, Happ, and Estrada hit FA.
Jays Journal tries to answer the question nobody is asking: might the Jays look to sign Carlos Santana this winter. Uh… team that already has Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales, Steve Pearce, and could probably use giving Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, and maybe even Devon Travis some time at DH? Yeah, no.
Elsewhere at Jays Journal, a piece on the potential of a Kevin Pillar trade — which I doubt will happen, as the club would much prefer guys like Anthony Alford and Teoscar Hernandez force their way into jobs, rather than just be handed ones. And another one panning the idea of the Jays going after Jay Bruce — which misses the mark for me, because Bruce isn’t going get a deal so long as to actually block anybody, and because I have no time for the we need players with “the ability to play small ball” crowd, as though that’s a reason to look past players who might actually help the club. This isn’t to say I think Bruce is the greatest idea, but he was a hell of a lot better than what the Jays got out of right field in 2017, and he’s a lefty bat with plenty of power and defence that won’t kill you. You could do better, for sure, but if this is where they end up, that’s OK. Provided the price is alright and he doesn’t suck, of course.
Of note regarding Bruce, MLBTR notes that the Jays were one of just eight teams on his no-trade list. (I guess that wasn’t an issue when he was nearly dealt here back in the spring of 2016? I don’t know.)
Shaun Doyle of Jays From the Couch finds a Nick Cafardo “rumour” that might actually make sense: the Jays going after reliever Addison Reed.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com cites the Jays’ TJ Zeuch as having one of the ten most notable performances in the AFL’s Fall Stars Game. He explains: “Zeuch needed just 12 pitches to retire the side in order in the fifth. Effectively mixing in his sinking fastball thrown in the 92-94 mph range and his slider that he added and subtracted from (low of 77.5 mph, high of 85.6), the right-hander struck out two and got a groundout for a quick inning of work.” There’s video of Zeuch in action in the post.
At BlueJays.com, Gregor Chisholm has an offseason primer of sorts — one that throws out the “wild card” possibility that the Jays could (theoretically, but probably won’t) look to trade Roberto Osuna. Hmmmm…
Speaking of trades, Nick Ashbourne of Yahoo! Sports looks at how the Blue Jays can help their outfield situation out via trade. McCutchen it is!!
Over at Sportsnet, the Tao of Stieb considers the two teams who played in the World Series, and compares them to the Blue Jays, which… yikes.
Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith looks at potential super-utility players that the Jays might look to add this winter.
And lastly, also at Sportsnet, Jeff Blair has one about TFC’s Sebastian Giovinco in which he’s called “Toronto’s new Bautista” in the title, and “the new king of Toronto sports petulance” in the piece. José still taking shit even after he’s out the door. For fuck sakes.